Celeste was my first ever review as a games journalist. I gave it top marks, 10 out of 10. The choice of my first review may have been somewhat engineered. But any accusation of my bestowing Celeste with anything but the highest possible praise resulting from youthful exuberance would be misguided. I stand, stoically by my score, and my assertion that “Celeste is quite frankly a perfect game. In turn it demands perfection, and anything less than a perfect score would be the cruelest disservice”.
But what might I have scored Celeste if the accompanying music wasn’t as equally immaculate the gameplay? When scoring in the most rudimentary terms, a game is the sum of its parts, and the soundtrack is sacrosanct. At the time I wrote, “Noteworthy too, is the music that guides you ever upward. It’s simply beautiful, coalescing with intricate perfection with the retro beauty of the game. It’s an 8-bit enthusiast’s wet dream, capturing seamlessly the repetitive melody of youth, with artful complexity and depth”. Imagine, if you will Journey without music, or your favorite Dark Souls boss encounter without the exceptional audio crescendo. Unthinkable.
Musicians take note
I am of a mind to consider this in light of last night’s Twitter revelation. A number of the composers involved in the inimitable sound track of Celeste have not received any royalties for their work in over 2 years. Artist 2 Mello, who was involved in the project revealed that Matiera Collective, who took over publishing duties for the Celeste soundtrack in July 2019 claims they have not received any royalties since the takeover. Along with three other musicians on the project, the artist claims specifically that they haven’t received payment for their contribution to the “B-Side” compilation released separately from the game and available for purchase for $5.
2 Mello speaks out against music label Materia Collective
Since voicing their concerns on Twitter, the complaints against Materia have come out of the woodwork. It seems the malpractice extends beyond just Celeste. Laura Intravia, who worked on both Destiny 2 and Mortal Kombat 11 claims to have missed 13 months of payments. Additionally, ZED composer Alex Parish claims that nothing has been paid since the release of her album in July 2019.
Many other artists have joined the fight against the disgraced label
In an statement made to PC Gamer, 2 Mello spoke out,
“I’m aware that five out of seven of the artists involved in the B-Sides album are in the exact same situation as m. We all received tax forms and personal info sheets to fill out to get registered with the company, and communication stopped there. I saw 8 other accounts yesterday, and more people who claim to have worked for Materia and seen the bad state their payments system was in while they were there or heard many artists weren’t getting paid. So at least over a dozen artists have been affected.”2 Mello, composer for Celeste, speaking to PC Gamer
The good news, we hope is it seems Materia has heard these concerns, and is responding to the impacted artists. The distributor has issued formal apologies to the group. It latter followed up with a public apology on Twitter, where the controversy began.
Materia Music reponds publically to concerns raised on twitter for non payment of royalties
Whilst this tackles immediate concerns, how long might these artists have gone unpaid had they not voiced their concerns publically. Materia may well resolve the incident next month, as promised. But bad water the label has taken on may be harder to shift. It’s reputation may be adrift for some time. In a final statement from Mello to PC Gamer, they said,
“I’m disgusted Materia allowed their single biggest responsibility as a music label to slip for this long, and that they relied on the silence of artists to act as a cover for these internal slip-ups. I’m saddened that the lack of payments made artists assume that their work had not been as successful or was not as much of a priority as other works, because with more communication, it could have been a continued artist-label relationship providing them support.”2 Mello, composer for Celeste, speaking to PC Gamer
At time of writing, Materia Collective have issued no direct comment to us on the subject. We will continue to watch this space to make sure it makes good on its promise. And hope that perhaps, this is not indicative of a more insidious, ongoing practice. Fair warning, you now have our attention, and for all the wrong reasons.
Source; PC Gamer
“Video games are great. I should know, I’ve played some.”
Olly S, July 2020